At 17:00 UTC this Thursday, François Jambou took the win (before the decisions of the jury) in the prototype category to complete the second leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère in Le Marin (Martinique) after 12 days, 02 hours, 27 minutes and 07 seconds of racing.
Aboard the boat that is the reigning champion of the race, the 35-year-old sailor took control of the fleet after two days of racing and never let go from that moment on. As a result, François is the outright champion of this 22nd edition (before the decisions of the jury). Here are his very first reactions on his arrival dockside, tinged as ever with modesty but also emotion.
“A lot of sacrifices that all seem to make sense today”
“I feel very moved and I just can’t get my head around what I’ve achieved. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices that all seem to make sense with this victory. My whole life has been geared around this, around making it this far. I haven’t had a salary for the past year and a half because I stopped working. I haven’t really been there for my 3-year-old son of late either. My partner has been behind me all the way and I thank her for that because without her I’d have never been able to do this. This victory will change my life. There will be a before and an after.”
“I didn’t feel like larking around”
“I was in a mode where it was important not to break the boat. I had my foot on the brake at the start. Maybe the others wanted to go too hard too soon and broke. I was really at average speed mode. There were lots of times where I could have pushed the boat harder, but as soon as it started slamming, as soon as there was a strange noise on the boat, I calmed things down a bit, whilst keeping a good eye on the ranking. I didn’t feel like larking around; it’s not in my nature. On the GPS, when you see there’s still 1,500 miles to go, you don’t want to do them under jury rig. We’re sailors first and foremost rather than racers.”
“A fantastic sail”
“Conditions were fun and always downwind. I hoisted my spinnaker at the start and I just dumped it here. I’ve only done 1 mile of upwind sailing. It was a fantastic sail. The boat was planing the whole time. There were some superb seascapes, sunshine at a low angle… you couldn’t wish for better. Mentally it was more difficult and I found it hard to manage the stress of competition. It’s one hell of an experience. I feel like I’ve made a massive amount of progress and got a good grasp of a whole bunch of stuff and that too is gratifying. I couldn’t lay claim to being assured of the win, because there were some fantastic sailors, fabulous boats and in the first leg I was a bit unlucky at the end.”
“A bit of luck”
“You had to get into the match from the get-go, which wasn’t easy as straightaway we were scooped up by strong breeze. I was just behind Marie Gendron when she broke her boat and I saw others broach. You do need a bit of luck on your side as idiotic things can happen to us all: the object you smack into, the wind shift that’s not forecast. There can be a whole heap of hassle and that’s the same for everyone.”
“The Mini-Transat, the race of my life”
“The Mini-Transat is the race of my life. I’ve never dreamed of doing the Route du Rhum or the Vendée Globe. I got into sailing relatively late in life, at around 16. For me, the Mini-Transat was the race that was within everyone’s grasp and I thought I’d be able to access it one day. Winning this race is just extraordinary!”
“Impressed by Ambrogio Beccaria”
“One sailor who has impressed me is Ambrogio. I think he’s the best sailor I’ve ever seen. He’s impressive. Jostling for first place with the production boats as if they were the top prototypes, that was the most striking fact of the race. I was completely amazed. Inevitably, when the wind eased a little, I was able to make good my escape with my more powerful, lighter boat, but all the same there’s a magnificent standard in the Mini and that’s good for the class and it’s good for the sport.”